Thursday, December 8, 2016

BEQ 6:38 (Ben) 


CS 8:39 (Ade) 


Fireball 8:58ish (Jenni) 


LAT 4:51 (Gareth) 


NYT 3:54 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


Damon Gulczynski’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NYT • 112/8/16 • Mon • Gulczynski • № 1208 • solution

NYT • 112/8/16 • Mon • Gulczynski • № 1208 • solution

Very good puzzle. The theme takes phrases that start with a two-letter initialism, changes that start to a one-syllable word, and reclues accordingly:

  • 17a. [Singers who go from “sol” straight to “ti”?], LA DODGERS.
  • 25a. [Comedians who do material on the Freudian psyche?], ID CARDS.
  • 37a. [“Young ‘uns, yer cuzzins are here” and others?], PA ANNOUNCEMENTS. That drawly “paw” sort of PA makes me think of “meemaw,” which puts me in mind of Mee Mah Restaurant. (I may need to eat there just so I can tell people I had dinner over at Mee Mah’s.)
  • 46a. [Shipping containers on Italy’s longest river?], PO BOXES. The Po! The most notable European river that never gets into crosswords because it’s only 2 letters long. (We would also have accepted a Teletubbies reference.)
  • 58a. [What Stephen King’s editor provided for a 1986 novel?], IT SUPPORT. Please do not evoke Pennywise in my crossword puzzle, not ever.

Two of the themers are only 7 letters long, but there’s no Across fill outside the theme that’s longer than 6 letters. (And the long Downs, IN THE ZONE and RADIOHEAD, are both not confusing in a “wait, is this part of the theme” way since neither has a question-marked clue. Both are also excellent fill.)

Too easy for a Thursday, though. The only difficulty was putting LA DODGERS together, and after that the theme was much more pliant.

4.3 stars from me. Smooth puzzle with a deftly handled and fresh theme.

Peter Gordon’s Fireball crossword, “Themeless 101″—Jenni’s write-up

Subscriptions for the 2017 edition of Fireball Crosswords are now available! Sign up here.

Fireball • 12/8/16 • Themeless 101 • Gordon • solution

Fireball • 12/8/16 • Themeless 101 • Gordon • solution

I love Peter’s themeless puzzles. This one wasn’t his toughest; it was still smooth and interesting and fresh.


Morning mouth. Shudder.

    • 1a [Chlorodent rival] takes us back to the world of retro toothpaste. I’ve never heard of Chlorodent but I know there were chlorophyll-based toothpastes in the 1950s, so I was on the right track. The answer is IPANA, which has also passed into the great advertising pantheon in the sky.
    • 15a [Ring tactic] summons the memory of Muhammed Ali with ROPE A DOPE.
    • I’m a Law&Order purist – only the original series, so 13d [Detective partnered with Stabler on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”] was not a gimme. It’s BENSON, which did ring a bell eventually.

My soap-watching habit from college finally paid off with 24a [Buchanan family patriarch on “One Life to Live”] – that’s conniving old ASA.

  • 32a [First in a trilogy of Mo Willems children’s books] is KNUFFLEBUNNY, which I knew because Mo Willems was a guest on the NPR quiz show “Ask Me Another.” These delightful books were unfortunately not around when Emma was little.
  • Just below that we have 35a [Fancy spread] which is TRUFFLE BUTTER. I suspect that the offset stack of UFFLEBU was the seed for this puzzle. Who could resist that? Not I.
  • Marrying a geologist also paid off when I got to 33d [Openings for volcano vapors] and I knew it was FUMAROLES.
  • The trademark Peter Gordon Very Long Clue is not that long: 41d [Either of the baseball brothers who separately won back-to-back All-Star MVP awards in 1997 and 1998]. I’m not sure we really need “separately” in the description. The answer is ALOMAR: Sandy in 1997 and Roberto in 1998.


What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that there was an [Instrument for measuring small electric currents] called a MILLIAMMETER.

Harold Jones’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Inside Tracks” — Jim’s review

The title told me that there was some interior trickery going on, but I wasn’t sure how “Tracks” would manifest themselves in a crossword puzzle. It took some doing before I found the common thread in each theme answer: the two Rs. That is, the two Rs are representing RailRoad tracks added to familiar phrases.

WSJ - Thu, 12.8.16 - "Inside Tracks" by Harold Jones

WSJ – Thu, 12.8.16 – “Inside Tracks” by Harold Jones

  • 17a [One looking to blow up broncos?] CORRAL MINER. Coal miner. Um. I don’t think the primary purpose of a miner is to blow stuff up.
  • 28a [Choice in el departamento de desodorantes?] FOREIGN ARRID. Foreign aid.
  • 43a [Making out with a masked hero?] PETTING ZORRO. Petting zoo. I like this one though I don’t equate “petting” with “making out.”
  • 57a [Weasel-like animal with fleas?] ITCHY FERRET. Itchy feet. Is “itchy feet” a phrase? Ah, yes. It means feeling the need to leave or travel. I think I have heard that before now that I see it.

The two Rs remind me of Will Shortz’s current NPR Sunday puzzle. Have you solved it?

Favorite entries today are ELBOW ROOM, MRS PEEL, and LITTLE MEN with the tricky clue [Sequel of 1871].

In fact we have a plethora of deliciously tricky clues today:

  • 16a. [This answer has five letters] for LIE.
  • 23a. [Current location] for SEA.
  • 1d. [Knight clubs] for MACES.
  • And my favorite at 20a [Number that’s added] for ENCORE.

And finally, a few more notes:

  • 63a. [Rally cap sporter] is a FAN. New to me, not being much of a baseball watcher. Per, a rally cap is a “baseball cap that is turned inside-out and backwards or sideways, worn by a fan, in anticipation of a possible batting rally by their chosen team during a game in which that team is tailing.”
  • 21a. [Development period, at times] is ONE HOUR. As in ONE-HOUR photo.
  • 44d. [Downton Abbey meal] is TEA. It took several months of living in England for me to realize that many British people refer to their evening meal as TEA.
  • 46a. [Filmmaker Riefenstahl] is LENI, short for Helene. She was a German actress and director responsible for some wartime propaganda films. Yet she maintained a murky relationship with the Nazi party and was never charged with any war crimes.
  • 4d. [Questlove trademark] is AFRO. Questlove is the co-frontman for the Tonight Show band, The Roots.

Jerry Edelstein’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LAT • 12/8/16 • Thu • Edelstein • solution

LAT • 12/8/16 • Thu • Edelstein • solution

HALFMOON is the revealer, and each theme answer fits the pattern MO*/*ON. We have MOVINGON, MOUNTVERNON, MORNING/EDITION and MONTYPYTHON.

Not much to comment on today. It’s a solid enough if lacking in pizzazz. I did like that the puzzle ends with SOEASY.


Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “How Does it Feel?” —Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 12.08.16: "How Does It Feel?"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 12.08.16: “How Does It Feel?”

Good day, people! Hope you’re all well today. Today’s crossword, brought to us by Ms. Donna S. Levin, has five theme entries, with the first four being phrases in which the first words of each combine to make a famous song title, with the fifth theme entry, DYLAN, being the reveal to that title (64A: [Music icon Bob who wrote the song suggested by the starts of this puzzle’s theme entries]).

  • LIKE BUTTON (17A: [Facebook endorsement mechanism])
  • A, MY NAME IS ALICE (26A: [Kids’ alphabetic clapping game]) – I definitely did not play this game as a kid.
  • ROLLING IN DOUGH (43A: [Flush, and then some])
  • STONE CRABS (56A: [Crustaceans prized for their claws])

I guess that mentioning a street gang passes the breakfast test, but, for me, seeing CRIP made me think that it doesn’t pass it by much (50D: [Blood’s sworn enemy]). I have a few memories of instances involving people I knew who were in those gangs when growing up that aren’t too pleasant at all, so that’s where I’m coming from. I’d rather just stick with the names of gangs from West Side Story in my crosswords. Had to look up just now that a skate is a type of marine animal, as I was all at sea when RAY emerged as one of the grid’s entries (58D: [Skate, for example]). Couldn’t come across ERIE, and its clue, without thinking of the projected foot of snowfall that’s expected in Central New York, where I spent my college years (2D: [“Great” body of water responsible for much New York lake-effect snow]). Stay strong Central and Western New Yorkers!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: WYNN (24D: [Las Vegas casino magnate Steve]) – One of the first stars of the Houston Astros franchise, former Major League Baseball player Jimmy WYNN was an outfielder in the Big Leagues for 15 years, between 1963 and 1977. Wynn’s nickname was the “Toy Cannon,” as he was known as a home run hitter despite his diminutive size at 5-foot-8. Wynn hit 291 career home runs, most of those coming as a member of the Houston Colt .45s/Astros franchise.

TGIF tomorrow! See you then!

Take care!


Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Swapping Sides” — Ben’s Review

Swapping Sides

Swapping Sides

Today’s BEQ is all about switching sides, although I’m not quite sure it worked for me:

  • 19A: Slangy honks? —
  • 27A: Spots you might get from a feeding trough? — MANGER MEASLES (GERMAN MEASLES)
  • 34A: Breath mint taken in self-defense? — SURVIVAL TIC-TAC (SURVIVAL TACTIC)
  • 44A: Giving director Ingmar a hard time? — RIDING BERGMAN (INGRID BERGMAN)
  • 53A: Pastries with colorful cravats? — RED TIE CAKES (TIERED CAKES)

The concept’s clever, but it took me writing out some of these answers for a second time (and typing out their reversals) to get what was going on with these and trust they were actual things. MANGER MEASLES and SURVIVAL TIC-TAC fell into place for me immediately, but RED TIE CAKES took forever to get from RED TIE to TIERED.

Other likes: FOGS, IOTA, BANJO, OXBOW, STRODE, ODIOUS, INDENT. Less liked: JOGGLE, ENGR, EEK‘s clue (“Get that thing out of HERE!” didn’t quite parse to EEK for me), and the III/VON/ANG trio mid-puzzle.

3.75/5 stars

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27 Responses to Thursday, December 8, 2016

  1. PJ Ward says:

    I really enjoyed the WSJ. Four RRs tie nicely to the Monopoly clue (31D). And Diana Rigg – Emma Peel to Olenna Tyrell. Love both of ’em.

    I’m used to rally caps being worn by players in the dugout more than fans.

    WSJ has become my favorite weekday puzzle with the Friday meta capping the week.

  2. Norm says:

    I don’t get 16A in the WSJ. Please explain.

  3. Joe Pancake says:

    For anybody who wants more inside poop on today’s NYT, please visit my blog:

  4. David L says:

    Having just turned 60, I do not care for 3D in the BEQ…

    NYT was cute.

    • Norm says:

      Think cars, rather than people. Although I just turned 64 [cue Beatles], it didn’t bother me at all. :)

  5. Steve Manion says:

    One of the few themes that are both extremely clever and very funny. I concentrate primarily on simply solving most puzzles, but today’s theme held my interest as well.

    Superb. I never grade the puzzles, but if I did, this would have been a 5.


  6. Jim Peredo says:

    NYT: Damon, what about 57a? It didn’t distract me during the solve, but I should think you would’ve taken that out or made it part of the theme. Perhaps clue it as [Song about you and me?] or [What you and I breathe?].

    • Joe Pancake says:

      I honestly didn’t notice it, which is a bit weird considering that I brainstormed a lot of U.S. –> US ideas (none of them work that well). Now that you point it out, I think I would probably redo that area given the chance, but it’s no biggie.

  7. Bruce N Morton says:

    I liked the themers too. But I don’t understand 35d ‘stem’ or its clue. In what sense is “stem” a subject group, and what is the gender imbalance?

  8. David says:

    Does anyone have the explanation for FALL SHORT at 36A in yesterday’s AV Club puzzle?

  9. Zulema says:

    I like NYT Thursdays that I can solve. This was one, and LADODGERS was cute. The whole puzzle was.

    • Lois says:

      I also liked the puzzle, and found it not too hard, but the Thursday placement seemed appropriate to me. I needed my husband for 34d and 59d.

  10. Jack says:

    No solution to BEQ today?

  11. Argyle says:

    Wrong grid for LAT.

  12. Harry says:

    Regarding the LAT them “Half Moon,” today is one.

  13. ann says:

    Gareth you posted LA’s solution grid for the wrong day.

  14. pannonica says:

    LAT now has the correct grid. The blog has been very uncoöperative of late.

  15. Nina says:

    Can someone explain NYT 54A ZEE? I’m sure I will have a duh moment.

Comments are closed.